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by Thomas Britt

14 Dec 2011



cover art

Liturgy

Aesthethica

(Thrill Jockey)
US: 10 May 2011
UK: 11 Apr 2011

Review [12.May.2011]

Liturgy
Aesthethica


There is no music award for getting under listeners’ skin. However, if that honor existed, it would certainly go to Liturgy for Aesthetica, the band’s follow-up to 2009’s Renihilation. Band leader Hunter Hunt-Hendrix catches endless Internet commenter grief for the lofty language he uses to describe the black metal group’s “transcendental” aims. His manifesto posits redemption and affirmation as philosophical and musical foundations within a nihilistic subgenre that rarely lets any light in. Yet Aesthetica‘s power lies not only in its ability to reveal the insecurities of listeners who would rather remain earthbound and hopeless; this is an album that completely supports the claims that preceded it. There is illimitable energy and life in these riffs and in the truly astonishing work of drummer Greg Fox, who recently left the band. Aesthetica houses some of the most uncanny sonic experimentation I’ve heard in years—at once, both virtuosic in its traditional metal musicianship and uplifting as poignant compositions of sacred minimalism. 2011 has been a good year for the genre of American Black Metal, and Liturgy’s Aesthetica is by far its crowning achievement.

by Will Layman

14 Dec 2011



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Tedeschi Trucks Band

Revelator

(Sony Masterworks)
US: 7 Jun 2011
UK: 8 Jun 2011

Review [15.Jun.2011]

Tedeschi Trucks Band
Revelator


Revelator is a joy. A perfect blend of songcraft and crack band playing, it makes you wonder why this wife/husband team took so long to come together as one. Singer Susan Tedeschi’s six-album career has been terrific, but just one star away from stellar. And the Derek Trucks Band had a tendency, perhaps, to feel too much like the Allman Brothers or too much like a “Man, you’ve gotta hear ‘em live” band. This true collaboration brings it all together as a nuanced gumbo that includes dashes of tasty organ, funked-out horn parts, gospel-driven background vocals, and always a burbling soul groove. Tedeschi sells each song with both warmth and open-throated wailing, while Trucks’s slide guitar playing carefully establishes the atmosphere and cries in solo features. A few tracks—“Midnight in Harlem”, “Bound for Glory” and “Until You Remember”—ache to draw your ears again and again.

by Chris Conaton

14 Dec 2011



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Fountains of Wayne

Sky Full of Holes

(Yep Roc)
US: 2 Aug 2011
UK: 1 Aug 2011

Review [8.Aug.2011]

Fountains of Wayne
Sky Full of Holes


It’s hard to deny the songwriting ability of Fountains of Wayne co-founders Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood at this point. They’ve been putting out mostly-impeccable power-pop for the past 15 years, and Sky Full of Holes proves that they’ve still got it. Collingwood’s affable, conversational lead vocals always sound just right for the band, regardless of whether he’s singing one of Schlesinger’s detail-specific tracks (“Richie and Ruben”, “A Road Song”) or one of his own, more emotion-focused songs (the title track). Regardless of who does the writing, though, the big sing-along hooks are impossible to resist. From the aching chorus and “Whoa oh oh"s of “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart” to the delicious three-part harmonies on “A Dip in the Ocean” to the unnecessary but totally fun horns in “Radio Bar”, Sky Full of Holes is Fountains of Wayne doing what they do best.

by Cynthia Fuchs

14 Dec 2011


“In 1997, I was fixing a plate of food in the kitchen,” says Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, “Getting ready for the evening news.” What he heard on the TV changed everything: a scientific report linked birth defects and childhood cancers to water contamination at Camp Lejeune, where he and his family had lived. “I dropped my plate, right there. I mean, it was like God was saying to me, ‘Here is a glimmer of hope, that you will find your answer.’” Ensminger’s question concerned the death of his nine-year-old daughter, Janey, some 14 years earlier. She’d had leukemia, and throughout her illness and after her passing, he wondered why. For the rest of Tony Hardmon and Rachel Libert’s Semper Fi: Always Faithful, Ensminger pursues answers, joining with two other victims. Their efforts are made more difficult by military and government efforts to deny responsibility. Screening on 14 December as part of Stranger Than Fiction’s Pre-Winter Season Special series, the documentary follows their alternately frustrating and heartening journey and also advocates for their cause. Given the passion that Ensminger and others bring to the story, Semper Fi mostly needs to observe, though occasional images or empty swings in a back yard or Jerry traipsing through the woods with his hunting rifle (“I come up here to get away from the daily stress”) help to underline its poignancy and also, their perseverance.

See PopMattersreview.

by Gabrielle Malcolm

14 Dec 2011


Good news everyone – he’s back! Tom Baker in a NEW Doctor Who story! Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) of UNIT returns to be re-united with ‘the living ghost’ the best Doctor ever! AND – even better news for our American friends – it’s on the radio. The first episode broadcast was 13th December, and the five-parter will be available on the BBC Radio 4 Extra iPlayer.

In deepest Sussex Yates encounters his old friend after answering a mysterious advertisement. Radio allows us to believe that Baker is, as the characters assert, exactly as he was in the 1970s. When his voice sets up the episode and the old theme tune kicks in, I felt transported! Talk about time travel.

The first episode sets things up very well and both actors carry things off with a sense of great melodramatic splendour. It is a cross between sci-fi and Victorian ghost stories – the best combination for Christmas.

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